Grinnell College’s Liberal Arts in Prison Program will celebrate its First Year of College Program offering at the Newton Correctional Facility during a Nov. campus symposium with national speakers on the benefits of education for incarcerated individuals.
Since 2003, Grinnell students and faculty have taught courses at Iowa correctional facilities, and in 2009, the college began a pilot program at the Newton facility to offer courses for Grinnell credit. Last summer, the Grinnell Liberal Arts in Prison Program admitted the first class to its new First Year of College Program, which enrolls incarcerated students in a rigorous course of study equivalent to a first year at Grinnell.
Grinnell program coordinator Emily Guenther credits Grinnell students' and faculty commitment to academic rigor and social justice for the success of the program. “Education is one of the most effective ways to prevent repeat offenses and help the incarcerated leave prison better able to lead constructive lives,” Guenther said. “The November symposium celebrates Grinnell’s commitment to the Liberal Arts in Prison Program and offers opportunities to engage with experts in criminal justice and education.”
The following events are free and open to the public:
• Nov. 3, 4:15 p.m.: Marc Mauer, one of the nation’s leading experts on criminal justice policy, will present “America’s Race to Incarcerate” about the rise in mass incarceration. Mauer’s reports and publications on sentencing policy, race, and the criminal justice system are among the most widely-cited in the field.
• Nov. 16, 8 p.m.: Max Kenner, founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative in New York, will present about the role of liberal arts colleges in prisons. The Grinnell program, which is supported by the Lilly Endowment, a gift from a Grinnell trustee, and Bard College, was among the first members of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts at Bard College.
• Nov. 17, 4:15 p.m.: Grinnell alumni Katie Jares and Noga Ashkenazi, who have done extensive prison-related work since graduation, will join a former inmate and student in a panel discussion about the college’s Liberal Arts in Prison Program. Jares and Ashkenazi volunteered in the program while Grinnell students.
• Nov. 17 at 8 p.m.: Noga Ashkenazi, a 2009 Grinnell graduate, will present clips from a documentary she is producing based on her teaching experiences at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. Ashkenazi will be joined in the discussion by a former inmate and student who is featured in the film. The screening will be held in Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302.
More than 50 Grinnell students volunteer regularly at the Newton and Mitchellville correctional facilities, tutoring and facilitating a variety of classes that have earned the respect of the Iowa Department of Corrections. Grinnell students also tutor at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.
All events will be held in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101, located at 1115 8th Ave. in Grinnell. For more information about the Grinnell Liberal Arts in Prison Program or the Nov. symposium, contact Emily Guenther, coordinator, at grinnellinprison[at]grinnell[dot]edu.